The Black Bitch and other Tales – Clerical Errors by Geoff Cronin

Clerical Errors

An Irish priest, stationed in London, was charged with the job of looking out for Irish lads who were coming to England for work and ended up on building sites.

His priestly duty was to see that these lads were kept on the ‘straight and narrow’ and introduced into good Catholic environments. To this end the priest had cultivated a network of builder’s foremen, whom he visited regularly, and these men would tell him of any new recruits from the Emerald Isle.

On one such visit he learned that one Jack Murphy had started work that week and he asked the foreman if he could meet Murphy.

“Hold on for a minute Father and I’ll see where he is and I’ll get him for you,” said the foreman.

The priest followed him out onto the site and the foreman looked up.

“There he is father, on the platform on level four – the man wheeling the barrow.”

Murphy was there alright and the priest could see him plainly, a distinguishing feature of the man being the fact that the sole of his shoe was coming adrift and was flapping dangerously with every step that he took.

“Get him down here immediately,” said the priest.

The foreman duly obliged and within minutes Murphy was standing in front of the priest.

“What in God’s name do ye think yer at boy, marching around sixty feet up on a scaffold with half yer shoe hangin’ off – are you trying to kill yourself?”

“Well Father,” said the lad, “I know I need new boots but I don’t get paid till Friday and the old ones will have to do till then.”

“That’s not good enough at all,” said the priest, taking a roll of notes out of his pocket, so big that the roll was contained by a big rubber band.

The priest carefully removed the rubber band and handing it to Murphy said, “here boy, put that around your foot and it might hold ye till Friday!”

* * *

Years ago in a certain village it was mooted that a factory was going to be put up and when I asked a local what might be produced there he answered ‘camel hair cheese’.

* * *

An Irish priest was stopped in the street in Cricklewood, London, by a young man who shook him warmly by the hand.

“How are ye Father Clancy, you wouldn’t know me but I’m one of the Murphys of Ballybeg,” said the man.

“Of course I know you,” said the priest, struggling to remember.

“Just refresh my memory now, was it you or your brother that was killed off the tractor?”

* * *

During the time when priests drove around the parish in a pony trap, a boy who was late for school was running past the local shop. The priest had just pulled up his pony and trap outside the shop and he grabbed the boy saying, “here boy, hold the pony while I go in here for a paper.”

“I can’t father, I’m late for school and the master will kill me.”

But, the priest merely tightened his grip and said loudly, “if ye don’t do as I say I’ll stick ye to the ground.”

“Well,” said the boy, “why don’t you stick the pony to the ground.”

“Man, Take up your Cross and Follow Me.”

Once upon a time there was a man who was carrying his cross through life and the weight of the cross was biting into his shoulder cruelly. His back was badly chafed and his arms ached as he trudged along his way and his knees were bruised and swollen, for he had fallen more than once.

In the distance he heard faintly the sound of a carpenter at work – mallet hitting chisel, short sawing strokes – and then he noticed a large shed from which these sounds were coming. As he drew nearer he saw the large door was open and he decided to go in and

rest awhile, if the carpenter didn’t object.
As he entered the shed he saw that the walls were lined with stacks of crosses, hundreds of them. So, he leaned his cross against one of the stacks and as he did so he saw that the carpenter was none other than Jesus, who was busy making crosses for people to carry through life.

“Come in and rest yourself son,” said Jesus, “you must be weary from your journey.”

“Indeed I am,” said the man, “weary and sore all over for that cross I’m carrying doesn’t suit me at all. Will you look at the state of my back and my shoulders, let alone my poor knees where I fell. It’s not that I want to complain, you know, but I thought you might have chosen a cross for me that would be a better fit, so to speak.”

Jesus smiled. “There are hundreds of crosses here, my son, and you’re welcome to try them all and select the one that suits you best.”

Well, the man thanked him profusely and went off about the shed trying each cross carefully and hefting it on his back and shoulders and finally he came back to Jesus.

“I’m very grateful to you for giving me such a choice and I’ve found a cross which fits me perfectly and I will be able to carry it for the rest of my journey.”

With that he picked up the cross and headed for the door, a happy man.

“By the way,” Jesus called after him, “That’s the one you came in with!”

* * *

Question from a small boy to a man with a sour face:
“How much would you charge to haunt a house?”;

©Geoff Cronin 2008

About Geoff Cronin – 1923 – 2017

There were few jobs that Geoff could not turn his hands to, and over the years he mastered an impressive number of professional undertakings. Master baker and confectioner, mobile cinema operator, salesman, band leader, senior executive and master wood turner, storyteller and writer.

Geoff Cronin published his first book in 2005 at age 82. The Colour of Life is a collection of stories of life in Waterford during his childhood and early adulthood in the 1920s, 30s and 40s. This was followed by two further books that related tales of further adventures in Waterford and Dublin.

Thank you for dropping in today and you can read The Colour of Life and the previous chapters of The Black Bitch in this directory:


37 thoughts on “The Black Bitch and other Tales – Clerical Errors by Geoff Cronin

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  4. I so enjoy Geoff’s stories. The one about the priest and the cash reminded me of a question about how rich the parish priests were. I asked my dad how come they don’t share with the rest of us? His answer to me was: “They are just men, God lives in your heart and doesn’t need your money”.I didn’t understand it then, but, I do now. ☺☺

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes and I am afraid that truth is the same for most of us.. when I was sixteen there were a number of ‘events’ relating to some of our church leaders who were particularly ferocious in the pulpit about our transgressions.. I announced to my parents I was cutting out the middle man and talking to the boss direct from that point onwards. xxx

      Liked by 1 person

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